Harris Creek Park
Submitted by: Cynthia Fraser
This is a small urban waterfront park featuring native planting and a spectacular view.
Harris Creek Park is an oasis in the urban fabric of the Baltimore waterfront. It demonstrates the evolution of a working commercial/industrial district to a popular residential and commercial neighborhood that still has the feel of the multi-ethnic neighborhood from which it originated. The park provides a place for tourists and residents alike to observe and enjoy this working harbor while providing a visual and physical link to the rest of the City.
This is a ¼ acre public open space bounded by Boston Street on one side and the Baltimore Harbor Promenade on the other. Residential buildings flank the sides of this informal park. Located in the Canton neighborhood, it is part of Baltimore’s colorful maritime history.
What Makes Harris Creek Park a Great Place?
As a pedestrian oriented park, Harris Creek connects to the neighborhood and city beyond in nearly every conceivable way. The Promenade links walkers and bikers to the adjacent Fells Point neighborhood and will eventually link the park all the way through the Inner Harbor and Federal Hill – a distance of 7.5 miles. A water taxi system is available via the Promenade which links major tourist areas of Baltimore. It is the access point to a marina where private boats are kept. On-street parking is available along Boston St. so automobile access and public transportation are easy.
Visually accessible, the park is an obvious departure from the surrounding streetscape and provides a natural link to the harbor. The native plantings are comfortable and appropriate to this park - no formal plantings, simply drifts of naturalized material that fit the waterfront environment perfectly. It is convenient to shoppers and residents, and seems to be well used by both. Its open layout, attention to plant selection by the designers, and lighting, provide a sense of security.
This is a passive park and a convenient way to walk between neighborhoods. Pedestrians, bicyclists, and strollers regularly use the park, and people are often seen sitting on the benches reading or watching the waterfront activity.
Harris Creek Park invites visitors to stop and enjoy the view. There are places to sit, paths to walk along, and even a boardwalk to dangle your feet over. It is also a welcome place to get away – a place to enjoy a quiet minute separate from the urban noise.
History & Background
While small, this park is a wonderful example of the fluid needs of a City and the responses to those needs. As part of the success of this revitalized waterfront community, the Park demonstrates how cities evolve over time. As factories grew into apartment buildings, the industrial corridor of Boston Street has developed into an enormously popular and vibrant neighborhood of tightly-knit businesses and residents. When planners began the reconstruction process, citizen ideas were critical to the direction of the area’s design – community preferences were vital to the planning process.